Brú Na Bóinne - A Sustainability Study
By Bettina Graham - Full Paper
in PDF format (700 KB)
‘It’s hardly surprising that the authorities have been unable to resist the
temptation to open the place up as a heritage money-spinner: as you approach
the tomb, a roadside protest placard announces: “Newgrange to close after
5000 years. Disneygrange opening soon.” (Greenwood & Hawkins 1997)’.
Heritage tourism in Ireland has been increasing over recent years, with a
5.23% increase in 2006. It is imperative to keep the balance
between satisfying the tourists’ expectations and simultaneously sustaining
the actual heritage site.
This essay will examine the World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne in County
Meath, Ireland, with regard to its stakeholders and some aspects of
environmental and social sustainability. It is hoped that this paper can
highlight the complexity of the sustainability issues with regard to a World
Due to the fragmented heritage management system in Ireland, the author
experienced difficulty in obtaining information regarding this heritage
site. There is no centralised website available. The research conducted
bases its findings on the Brú na Bóinne Development Plan 2000, the Meath
County Council Development Plan 2007-2013 and information available on the internet.
Before looking into the issues of sustainability relating to a tourist
attraction and its development, an understanding of the meaning of
sustainability is required.
Bord Fáilte’s draft development plan 1993-1997 acknowledges the limitations to
the growth of heritage sites, the importance of the conservation of the
authentic base rather than the packaging. Furthermore it supports the intrinsic
importance of the attraction itself rather than facilities designed around them.
It strives to obtain higher returns in the industry through quality rather than
numbers (Meldon in Kockel 1994).
Sustainability means ‘economically viable, but does not destroy the resources on
which the future of tourism will depend, notably the physical environment, and
the social fabric of the host community’ (Swarbrooke 1999 cited by Ritchie &
Sustainable development is defined as ‘a policy for continued economic and
social development without detriment to the environment and the natural
resources on the quality of which continued human activity and further
development depend’ (Commission of the European Communities 1992, cited by
Meldon in Kockel 1994).
It can therefore be concluded that sustainability for a tourist attraction
concerns the development and exploitation of the natural and/or built
resource(s) without destroying the site for future generations while respecting
and implementing the stakeholders’ inputs and values.
Brú na Bóinne
Brú na Bóinne, meaning ‘mansion on the Boyne’ is the name given to the
that provides access to the Newgrange and Knowth neolithic passage tombs
(Duffy 2006). These tombs have been built around 3250BC, 500 years before the
Pyramids of Egypt and 1000 years before
. They are therefore the
oldest existing building in the world (Clarke, Walfare and Fairly 1980).
Discovered by accident in 1699 by the then landowner Mr. Campbell, Newgrange was
excavated and restored by Professor O’Kelly
between 1962-1975 on behalf of and
financially supported by Bórd Fáilte (Kearns 2005). The Knowth
passage tomb was
discovered in 1967/68 by Professor George Eogan
. The latter shows continuous
human activity, dating further back than Newgrange until the Middle Ages (Duffy
2006). This tomb is not accessible to the public. In 1993 the area was listed as
a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO 2007). The entire site comprises 93 recorded monuments
(Meath County Council 2007a). The new visitor centre, Brú na Bóinne, was opened
in 1997 just South of the tombs on the far side of the river Boyne and is now
the only entrance to the Knowth and Newgrange tombs.
It is believed that Newgrange is built as a burial site as well as an astronomic
calendar (Kearns 2005). At the
21st of December each year (and a few days either side of this date), the rays
of the raising morning sun fall through a small opening in the roof box of the
mound illuminating the burial chamber situated 19m inside the tomb for about 17 minutes
Facilities at the visitor centre include a tourist information office,
audio-visual presentations of Newgrange and the
, a gift shop, a
wheelchair accessible replica of the Newgrange tomb (Duchas 2002), leaflets in
seven languages, a tearoom with seating for 110 visitors, car and bus parking
and toilets (Heritage Ireland 2007).
A paper by Bettina Graham - Completed in October 2007 as part of the
requirement for ‘Destinations in Tourism Systems’ in the post-graduate
Certificate of Tourism Management at the University of Technology Sydney
Faculty of Business in the School of Sport, Leisure and Tourism.
in PDF format (700 KB)
Newgrange viewed from the banks of the River Boyne
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